inPowered™ Stories Amplify Expert Word of Mouth as Paid Advertising
- Advertisers only pay when expert earned stories are read or shared
- New sponsored stories leverage trusted "experts," not "friends" to shape brand perception and purchase consideration
SAN FRANCISCO, May 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Research continues to show that the most trusted source for information about brands and products is "earned" media (e.g. the recommendations of others, or word-of-mouth(1)). Within considered purchase categories like tech, nothing is more influential than independent product reviews or stories from trusted third-party experts(2). Launched today, inPowered Stories (Beta) provide brands a scalable new way to turn influential earned media into sponsored ads, to shape brand perception and purchase consideration.
inPowered Stories is the newest beta product to leverage the inPowered platform from NetShelter Technology Media launched last December. inPowered Stories enable brands to promote and amplify an influential existing story or product review, as a new kind of sponsored ad unit, across NetShelter's vast network of other influential blogs. Unlike traditional display ads, inPowered Stories ensure advertisers only pay when consumers actually read or share a story – not by CPMs (cost per thousand impressions).
"There's a difference between popularity and authority. Someone might be 'popular' as judged by online followers, but that doesn't make them an influential or trusted expert," said Brian Solis, author of The End of Business as Usual and principal analyst at Altimeter Group. "For considered purchase categories, brands are looking for authentic, agile, and meaningful strategies to reach consumers. The Social Web is powered not by self-promotion, but rather by how others promote the content they deem valuable. To truly engage requires the recognition of authorities and the alignment of contextually relevant content and stories."
"Across the industry, brands are seeking powerful new tools to shape the purchase decisions of influential consumers, and not relying solely upon the number of eyeballs an ad reaches online," said Peyman Nilforoush, co-founder and CEO of NetShelter. "We all see this dynamic reflected in brands' universal interest in platforms such as Facebook, and it's a guiding principle behind the creation of our inPowered Stories. Similar to the way Facebook's Sponsored Stories amplify friends' opinions about brands, our new inPowered Stories amplify experts' opinions about brands to influence purchase decisions."
"inPowered Stories enable brands to put their earned media on steroids, as the centerpiece of paid media buys," said Pirouz Nilforoush, president and co-founder of NetShelter. "Brands only pay when people read or share the sponsored story, and consumers receive authentic and credible ads they trust."
Tech-related advertising currently represents about a quarter of all ad dollars spent on the Web(3). inPowered Stories offer brands a quick and easy way to augment traditional online advertising campaigns, socially leverage influential articles, support new product launches, extend buzz in between product launches, launch pre-emptive ads timed with competitors' product announcements, and more.
Aligning the Medium and the Message
"People go to Google to search, and they go to Facebook to share information with friends, and both platforms present advertising experiences that are consistent with those expectations," continued Pirouz Nilforoush. "However, people go to tech blogs and news sites to learn from independent experts. So, our inPowered Stories directly align with what consumers want."
inPowered Stories are designed to be placed directly within the reading flow of the regular stories on a page, as opposed to the placement of a traditional display ad. inPowered Stories are noted as "sponsored," and the actual headline and synapsis are pulled from the original source article (via RSS). When consumers click on an inPowered Story, they are taken to the original source blog and article. These promoted stories have been pre-qualified as influential based on the stories' recent past performance, by measuring consumption and social amplification across more than 30 social signals (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reditt, Google+, blog comments, and more) via the inPowered platform.
Consumers also are presented an easy "share bar" on the side of the page, which suggests other promoted stories, and lets consumers instantly share it via social networks, or take another action to engage a brand directly. Brands can easily rotate the individual story that they choose to amplify, and NetShelter works with brands and agencies to identify and promote articles that are reflective of the brands objectives.
Prior to launching the new beta, NetShelter conducted pilot studies with two major CE brands to test the preliminary efficacy of inPowered Stories. According to DoubleClick, the average click-through rate (CTR) in the U.S. is .09%(4). By comparison, inPowered Stories in these pilots received active consumer engagement of average of .59%, or more than 6 times efficacy when accounting for reads and initial shares.
For advertisers, NetShelter has evolved its business model beyond being an exclusive vertical network that provides the ad revenue for its tech bloggers. The combination of its inPowered platform and its network of influencers provides a powerful end-to-end platform for brands. NetShelter's network is comprised of 4,500 professional tech bloggers, including prominent personalities such as Seth Weintraub of 9to5Mac.com, Kevin Michaluk of Crackberry.com, Arnold Kim of MacRumors.com, Rob Jackson of Phandroid.com, Jon Rettinger of TechnoBuffalo.com, Helena Stone of ChipChick.com, Julio Franco of Techspot.com, and thousands of others across leading tech blogs. More information is available at www.NetShelter.com.
About NetShelter Technology Media
NetShelter is the largest "influencer network" of technology blogs on the Web, with more than 4,500 independent bloggers reaching 150 million global readers(1). NetShelter's inPowered platform amplifies content from influential tech blogger's to drive brand influence in a measurable way. NetShelter is headquartered in San Francisco with offices in New York, Chicago, and Toronto. NetShelter Technology Media is backed by venture funding from Rho Ventures, and the BlackBerry Fund. Additional information is available at www.NetShelter.com.
(1) Nielsen's Global Trust in Advertising Survey; (2)Seventy-six percent (76%) of respondents, across 139 influential tech blogs, said they rely on third-party experts' reviews and commentary when considering brands for a tech purchase according to NetShelter Technology Media Influential Content Survey Research by 3rd Party Crowd Science Inc, 139 sites participating, N = 3329 completed surveys; (3)Internet Ad Revenue Report, 2011 First Six Months Results (Telecom and Computing Products); (4) DoubleClick Benchmarks data representing a cross-section of countries, January 2010 - December 2010; (5) Ranked by comScore WW figures as largest Technology Media Property with about 150 million based on October 2011 figures.
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